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Following the flags: Breaking down the Patriots penalties through eight games

11.08.11 at 9:46 am ET
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Through eight games this season, the Patriots have been flagged for 52 penalties (18th in the league) and 471 yards (12th in the league). Here’€™s a breakdown of the calls that have gone against New England, not including penalties that were declined or offset:

Most penalized players, listed by total flags and with total yardage lost:
OL Logan Mankins: five penalties (offensive holding and four false starts), 30 yards
OL Nate Solder: four penalties (three holding and illegal use of hands), 40 yards
Team: four penalties (12 men on the field, offensive holding, two illegal substitutions), 25 yards
TE Rob Gronkowski: three penalties (holding, false start, facemask), 29 yards
S Sergio Brown: three penalties (three defensive pass interference), 71 yards
OL Matt Light: three penalties (two holding and one false start), 20 yards
LB Dane Fletcher: two penalties (offensive holding, illegal block above the waist), 17 yards
OL Brian Waters: two penalties (holding, offensive holding), 15 yards
LB Brandon Spikes: two penalties (holding, encroachment), 11 yards
TE Dan Gronkowski: two penalties (both false starts), 10 yards
CB Leigh Bodden: two penalties (both defensive holding), 10 yards
WR Wes Welker: two penalties (illegal motion, false start), 10 yards
S Pat Chung: two penalties (unnecessary roughness and facemask), 15 yards
WR Deion Branch: two penalties (both false starts), 10 yards
WR Chad Ochocinco: two penalties (illegal formation, false start), 9 yards
CB Kyle Arrington: one penalty (defensive pass interference), 35 yards
DL Andre Carter: one penalty (roughing the passer), 15 yards
LB Rob Ninkovich: one penalty (roughing the passer), 15 yards
DL Kyle Love: one penalty (roughing the passer), 15 yards
OL Dan Connolly: one penalty (offensive holding), 10 yards
S James Ihedigbo: one penalty (illegal block above the waist), 10 yards
CB Devin McCourty: one penalty (illegal block above the waist), 10 yards
QB Tom Brady: one penalty (delay of game), 5 yards
TE Aaron Hernandez: one penalty (false start), 5 yards
DL Vince Wilfork: one penalty (unsportsmanlike conduct), 2 yards
OL Sebastian Vollmer: one penalty (false start), 5 yards
K Stephen Gostkowski: one penalty (illegal onsides kick), 5 yards

Most penalized by position:
Offensive line: 16 penalties for 125 yards
Safety: six penalties for 108 yards
Tight end: six penalties for 44 yards
Wide receiver: six penalties for 29 yards
Linebacker: five penalties for 43 yards
Cornerback: four penalties for 55 yards
Team: four penalties for 25 yards
Defensive line: three penalties for 32 yards
Quarterback: one penalty for five yards
Kicker: one penalty for five yards

Most frequently called penalties on the Patriots:
False start: 14
Offensive holding: 13
Defensive pass interference: four
Roughing the passer: three
Illegal block above the waist: three
Defensive holding: two
Facemask: two
Illegal substitution: two
Illegal formation: one
Illegal use of hands: one
Unsportsmanlike conduct: one
Unecessary roughness: one
Illegal motion: one
Twelve men in the huddle: one
Illegal onside kick: one
Encroachment: one
Delay of game: one

Read More: Patriots, penalties,

Fantasy Football: Week 10 Waiver Wire

11.08.11 at 8:53 am ET
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Welcome to the week 10 waiver wire. Since we have this odd gap in the bye weeks, we’€™re featuring more long-term options and fewer one-week fill-ins. We’€™ll get back to bye week options in week eleven, which is the final week for byes. If you play in a deep format and are looking for even more options, please feel free to join us at

Tim Tebow, QB, Broncos

People can debate his worth as an NFL QB until the cows come home, but it is pretty clear that the guy is a fantasy asset as long as he is starting. This is probably the last week we list him here. He should already be owned in all leagues.

Carson Palmer, QB, Raiders

Let other people focus on the loss and the drama. Palmer has a very good supporting cast and he is, at minimum, a quality backup for fantasy purposes.

Sam Bradford, QB, Rams

He hasn’€™t really performed that well this season, but we like his potential in this offense with Steven Jackson performing at a high level and with Brandon Lloyd in the fold as the #1 receiver. Bradford should be owned in all leagues.

Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals

He continues to get it done and he is a fantasy asset due to the solid weaponry in Cincy. He is a decent matchup starter in larger leagues and a solid backup in any format.

Roy Helu, RB, Redskins

We’€™ve been talking about Helu since July, and looks like his ship has finally come in. He may not get 24 touches every single week, but as we’€™ve been saying all along, he is the back to own in DC. Helu is now a must-add in any format and he looks like he’€™ll have some bonus value in PPR formats. Helu is a very nice player to own in long term formats.

Brandon Jacobs, RB, Giants

There are rumors that Ahmad Bradshaw will be back, but even if he is, there are tons of reasons to doubt his ability to return to form. His injury is nothing new. Bradshaw has been having serious problems with his feet for years now. Even if he manages to gut it out and go, he may not have his usual burst. For these reasons, we like Jacobs as a possible answer for your RB2 spot. He is worth an add in all performance formats … and in some PPR leagues too.

Read the rest of this entry »

Player Poll: Chad Ochocinco, Tom Brady among NFL’s most overrated

11.07.11 at 6:38 pm ET
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A poll of 111 NFL players by The Sporting News featured a pair of Patriots on the list of the NFL’s most overrated players. Tim Tebow (22 votes) and Tony Romo (21) were runaway selections for the top two spots in the category. A bit further down the list, Patriots wide receiver Chad Ochocinco received five votes to finish in a tie for fifth place, while Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was named on three ballots, tied with Chargers QB Philip Rivers and Cardinals signal-caller Kevin Kolb for seventh in the NFL.

Ochocinco was on another ignominious midyear list. He ranked sixth in a survey by Forbes of the most disliked NFL players by the public, with 35 percent of fans suggesting they had a poor opinion of the mercurial wide receiver. That was still behind Patriots teammate Albert Haynesworth, who was the fourth most disliked player in the NFL, with 46 percent of survey participants suggesting they disliked the defensive lineman. He finished behind Michael Vick (60 percent dislike rate), Plaxico Burriss (56 percent) and Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (49 percent), all of whom have been either convicted of or charged with crimes in recent years.

Read More: Albert Haynesworth, Chad Ochocinco, most dislike player, most overrated player

Bill Belichick happy with Brandon Deaderick’s performance against Giants

11.07.11 at 4:46 pm ET
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FOXBORO — For someone who just came off the physically unable to perform list, it was a good afternoon for second-year defensive lineman Brandon Deaderick.

The 6-foot-4, 305-pounder — a seventh-round pick out of Alabama last season — was on the PUP list at the start of the season after shoulder surgery in the offseason. He was activated to the 53-man roster last week, and saw his first action of the season Sunday against the Giants.

In New England’s four-man defensive front, he got the start in place of veteran defensive end Shaun Ellis (who was out because of a rib injury) and finished with four tackles (two solo), including one for a loss in 16 total snaps, according to Pro Football Focus.

“He did a solid job,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said of Deaderick. “Shaun wasn’€™t active so Brandon did play quite a bit at left end out there because Shaun wasn’€™t up.

“I thought Brandon did a good job ‘€“ did a nice job in the running game, used his hands well, played with good technique and he got up the field and got close to the quarterback a couple times. [Kareem] McKenzie is a pretty good tackle, I thought he competed well.”

“I prepared to play, so when the game came and they called my number, it was good,” said Deaderick on Monday. “I just basically prepared every week. Getting better and staying prepared. Make sure I’m prepared to play, whether I play or I don’t.”

Deaderick said he feels comfortable in either the three-man or the four-man front.

“I really like them both. You really have to be able to play everything — to me, it’s d-line,” he said. “Your hand is in the dirt, you’re gone. I’ve played in both (and it’s) not that big of a difference to me.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, Brandon Deaderick, Kareem McKenzie, Shaun Ellis

Vince Wilfork on The Big Show: Patriots ‘didn’t make the play when we needed to make the play’

11.07.11 at 3:27 pm ET
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Patriots defensive lineman Vince Wilfork made his weekly appearance on The Big Show Monday afternoon to share his thoughts on the Patriots’ 24-20 loss to the Giants Sunday afternoon. The Patriots defense was improved for much of the game, as it did not allow the Giants to score throughout the entire first half, but ultimately the defense’s efforts fell short on the final drive, when the Giants drove 80 yards in 1:21 to score the game-winning touchdown.

On the touchdown play, the Giants scored from the 1-yard line on a pass to Jake Ballard with 19 seconds remaining in the game and no timeouts. Wilfork said the defense knew the Giants were going to run a pass play, but still could not stop them.

“Third-and-1 with 19 seconds to go with no timeouts, if they run the ball, it’s going to be pretty tough to get your field goal team on the field because there’s a lot of moving parts and that’s one thing we practice all the time,” Wilfork said. “But we know 19 seconds is pushing it. So we kind of knew they had to throw the ball. We just didn’t make the play when we needed to make the play. It’s plain and simple. There’s no excuses on our end.”

Wilfork also addressed former teammates such as Rodney Harrison and Tedy Bruschi who have been critical of the team in their new careers as TV analysts. Wilfork launched into a short diatribe about how it does not matter to any of the Patriots what someone outside of the current locker room says.

“We know what we have in this locker room, point blank,” Wilfork said. “It doesn’t matter what anyone else says about this team. Former players that played up under Bill Belichick for however long. I don’t care. It doesn’t matter to us. They’re not in this locker room. They’re not a part of what we’re doing so their word doesn’t mean anything to me or to this team.”

Following are more highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, go to The Big Show audio on demand page. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Rodney Harrison, Tedy Bruschi, Vince Wilfork,

Deion Branch on D&C: ‘We just didn’t execute’

11.07.11 at 11:45 am ET
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Patriots wide receiver Deion Branch joined Mut & Merloni at Gillette Stadium Monday morning for his weekly discussion about the team. The Patriots dropped their second straight game Sunday, a 24-20 loss to the Giants.

The Patriots failed to score on their first nine drives Sunday, but Branch said the Giants defense did not do anything the Patriots weren’t expecting.

“No, no surprises. Everything they did was pretty much what we game-planned for,” he said. “We just didn’t execute. No excuses at all. None. No excuses.”

Added Branch: “I honestly know that we were prepared to play this game. We just didn’t go out and do it.”

After a scoreless first half, the Patriots still could not get on track at the start of the third quarter. That’s something Patriots fans aren’t used to seeing.

“We preach and harp on starting fast. The last two weeks we haven’t,” Branch said. “For whatever reason, it is hard right now. ‘€¦ That’s our goal each and every game: Start fast, start fast after halftime. The last couple of weeks, we haven’t been doing it.”

Following are more highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

On second-year receiver Taylor Price: “He has great potential. He has a lot of potential. He has all the attributes as a receiver — the height, speed, size, all that stuff. And he’s a great practice player. So, he’s doing the things. It’s just all about getting over that little, small hump. He’s fighting [a hamstring injury]. This guy’s battling. He’s doing a great job. He’s doing everything the coaches ask of him. He’s not complaining at all. He’s fighting. And trust me, all the guys are pulling for him. The coaches are, too. There’s a reason they brought him here, because they know what type of talent he has.”

On the Jets’ improvement since the last time the teams met: “It’s a different team. As the weeks go on, some teams get better, some fall off.”

On Jets week: “It’s always good playing those guys. There’s a lot of entertainment that leads up to the game, and then the game is always good. ‘€¦ We’ve got to get a win. That’s the only thing that matters.”

Read More: Deion Branch, Taylor Price,

Opposing teams have a read on Tom Brady, Patriots offense

11.07.11 at 10:28 am ET
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FOXBORO — Before lifting his coach onto his massive shoulders in a wild postgame celebration, Justin Tuck was helping once again to carry the load defensively against Tom Brady and the Patriots.

Yes, Brady drove the Patriots 64 yards for the go-ahead touchdown on fourth-and-9 at the Giants‘ 14 with 1:36 remaining. And yes, Brady had an 80-yard drive earlier in the fourth quarter following Kyle Arrington‘s end zone pick of Eli Manning.

“All of us defensive guys were kind of bummed out,” Tuck said afterward of the Brady-to-Rob Gronkowski TD. “We had the opportunity to shut them out in the fourth quarter. We played consistently. There’€™s been some games where we’€™ve had some spurts of playing really well and then for some [times when] we’€™ve looked liked we’€™ve never played together before.”

But the reason Tuck and the Giants were jubilant afterward was their defense for three quarters that kept the undermanned Giants in the game on the road. Brady and the Patriots had three points against a defense that was showing signs of weakness, especially against the run.

However, the Patriots could not take advantage, running just 24 times for 106 yards, with 18 of those yards coming on a BenJarvus Green-Ellis run on their first play of the first quarter. Another came on a Wes Welker 13-yard reverse. Take those two out and the Patriots had 75 yards on 22 carries.

The numbers for the Patriots offense are not good the last three games, albeit against three good to very good defenses. They have put up 20, 17 and 20 points. But against Dallas, they had 13 points before a Brady TD pass to Aaron Hernandez with 22 seconds remaining. Against the Steelers, the Patriots couldn’t sustain a drive until the fourth quarter. On Sunday, the Patriots didn’t reach the end zone until the fourth quarter and were inept offensively before picking up the pace.

The serious questions are there: Why is it taking 45 minutes for the Pats to find their rhythm? Have the Patriots and Brady become predictable?

Boomer Esiasonon Monday with Dennis & Callahan — thinks so. So, apparently, do opposing defensive coordinators.

Put pressure on Brady up front. Then, either bump-and-run with the corners like Pittsburgh and Dallas did or drop your linebackers into coverage like the Giants did Sunday and try to confuse or disrupt Brady. It all depends on your personnel. Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell thought he had the linebacking group that could play close to the line then drop back into coverage. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Justin Tuck, New England Patriots, New York Giants, nfl
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